North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Breaking Down 100 Good Points

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I don’t know if there’s any writing more disposable than sportswriting. Maybe grocery lists. Certainly posts like this. The best sportswriting is timeless: nobody’s ever going to forget about Pat Jordan, Red Smith or WC Heinz, let alone pieces like Norman Mailer’s report in the Ali/Frazier fight. But mostly, it’s uneventful stuff. “Then the Habs scored two quick ones, bang, bang, and it was 3-2 for the good guys,” that kind of thing. Most sportswriting is on deadline and is dated by the next day. It’s not meant to be read a week later.

That said, what I do is less reporting and more blogging. My title’s Contributor and I almost never get press credentials, although I don’t apply for many to begin with. And I’ve been lucky enough to bang out words on a weekly (and more usually, biweekly) basis for The Good Point, so there’s a little more latitude when it comes to writing. So instead of covering things, I usually write about whatever’s been happening in the world of sports and react to them. On a bad day, I’m not any more interesting than a hack columnist on some small town newspaper, offering uninteresting and instantly dated opinions (see: this column about the NHL coming to Markham). I feel for editor and general behind the scenes wizard Rob Boudreau, who deals with me every two weeks. He’s probably my most regular reader.

But on a good day, I’d like to think I’m able to shine a little light into some of the more offbeat corners of sports. Over the four years I’ve been writing at The Good Point, I’ve covered a huge range of topics, including some I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone else write about; I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of wider interests than the average sports-scribbler or on my complete inability to function as a journalist.

I recently filed my 100th post for The Good Point. I have no idea how I got to this number, I never thought I’d be there for a full year (then again, I always thought I’d be a beat writer of some sort by now). What follows is a few links to some of my favourite posts and a few words on each.

Taking LeBron James for Granted – Mar. 15, 2013

Confession: I have a reddit account I use to post links to my stories. This is one reddit hated. I guess I know why: it’s either blindly obvious that LeBron is the best or you hate him so much you don’t want to hear it. But good God, was he unbelievable this postseason. All year, really.

Glory Days: Kobe, Jordan, Marv and the NBA on NBC – Aug. 3, 2012

Regular readers might realize I’m a basketball guy. That’s how I got started at The GP and it’s the bulk of my writing elsewhere. So I’m the kind of guy who jones for the sport during the offseason, which means by the time August rolls around, I’m knee-deep in YouTube, watching old games. This piece came out of that, in particular a triple-header a guy named TRJ (more on him later) posted a while back: all three games, including one with the Toronto Raptors. I’d forgotten they even played on US television. It’s not often Toronto teams do during the regular season.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the NBA can be broken down by its television years. When I think of grainy NBA on CBS games, I think about the 1987 Finals; when I think about the NBA on ABC I think about Robert Horry hitting game-winning shots. And when I think of the NBA on NBC, I think of Jordan. After I realized that, I more or less had the column written.

The Passion Play – Jan. 12, 2012

For a while, I was obsessed with Tebow. I’m not now, but that’s only because ESPN seems to be and turned everyone against him. A nightmare year in New York helped, too. Still, I’ll sometimes I’ll think about that overtime win against Pittsburgh and smile, it was a magical win and for a while, Tebow was a magical player.

Game Time in Canada: Inside the NBL – Dec. 7, 2011

I used to live in Oshawa. And there was a semi-pro basketball team in Oshawa, the Power of the NBL. It was a rag-tag kind of league, although there was talent there. It reminded me of that old line about hockey goons: even if all they do is punch each other, remember at one point, they were the most skilled player on the team. I don’t live in Oshawa anymore. Neither do the Power.

Lysistrata Jones: Filling the Basketball Void – Nov. 22, 2011

The time I wrote about a broadway play. Inspired by a Frank Deford column, who makes what he does look a million times easier than it is. The PR person for this play set me up on a conference call with the director, who never picked up his phone (they offered me free tickets, though). The ancient Greeks believed in omens and that might have been a bad one; the play barely lasted a month.

Slip-ups, Slurs and the State of Sexuality in the NBA – June 2, 2011

Weighing in on social issues in sports is one of my favorite topics to write about. There’s so much nuance in language and the politics of language, gender and sexuality impact so much of the way we approach sports but you never see it mentioned in Sports Illustrated or ESPN. There’s a small reference to Christine Daniels in there: the way her life ended was completely fucked up, tragic and depressing. I still think about her and this the amazing piece by Steve Friess from time to time.

Classic Cinema, Samurai and the NBA – April 21, 2011

The time ESPN linked to me. A dirty secret about NBA blogging: when you write about the MVP race, it’s not hard to get blogs to link to you; the most popular thing I’ve ever written was about the MVP race 20 games into the season. I remember writing this as a body vs soul kind of argument: my gut felt that Derrick Rose should be MVP, but my head said it was LeBron James. Then I thought about Dwight Howard, my favorite samurai movie and boom, more pageviews than I knew what to do with.

Samkon Gado: NFL’s Loss, Medicine’s Gain – December 16, 2010

This was one in the back of my head for a while: Gado was a short-term fantasy beast, who won a couple of games for me single-handedly. Then he vanished. When I looked him up, it felt like I was the only person who wondered, as there wasn’t a lot of information. If I was writing this today, I’d try a little harder to get ahold of Gado. As it was, I think this turned out pretty alright.

Turkoglu and Toronto: A Load of Ball – Aug. 13, 2010

This one nearly got me fired from The GP: it came in way to long, with a ton of embedded links (I wanted to document all the bullshit Hedo said) and an editor at the time flipped out. I don’t think I was supposed to get the email that called it unreadable trash, but it helped me round it into shape. I probably could’ve done a better job and I’m still a little surprised it actually ran.

Around the World in 60 Days – June 30, 2010

One summer, former Toronto blogger Navin Vaswani – aka Eyebleaf – did a project for The Globe and Mail where he bussed around the US and visited every MLB stadium. I thought it was a pretty cool project and spoke to him about it. It probably would’ve made a fun book, if he wanted to write it. I don’t think he writes at all anymore though. Too bad, for a while he was Toronto’s best sports blogger.

Puck Dreams in Florida – March 25, 2010

A profile on a hockey player named Matt Smyth. Born in England, raised in Florida and at one time a highly touted prospect. When I met him, he was playing in a barn of an area out by Casino Rama for a team. We spoke on Superbowl Sunday (he picked the Saints) during a game he didn’t play in. I tried to talk with the coach, who put me off and then stopped answering my calls. I sat on the story for a bit and when the team folded I decided to run it, more or less incomplete.

Since this ran, Smyth played for a spell in Ohio, then for a team called the FireAntz. Last I heard, he was playing in Cincinnati and playing down his birthplace.

Inside the Secret World of Underground Tape Trading – March 5, 2010

My favorite thing I’ve done for the site and probably the least interesting. Since this ran, I’ve amassed close to 300 games on DVD (mostly basketball), one of the holy grails has emerged (game seven of the 1960 World Series) and one of my contacts, the above mentioned TRJ, went crazy and vanished from the internet.

How Chris Bosh and Lady Gaga Reinvented Earth – Oct. 27, 2009

That headline: all on my fantastic-for-putting-up-me editor Austin Kent. I wrote this in longhand in a coffee shop, after an idea that was too good to ignore. I’d written some stuff for the site before, but I think this was the first time I wrote something decent, something recognizable as my own. For a while, I wrote extensively about Bosh: he’s still one of the more fascinating people in sports, clever and uncompromising in his own subtle way. Someday he’ll be great on Inside the NBA. I could probably compile all of my Bosh pieces together, add some new stuff and have a quick-and-easy eBook.

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Written by M.

July 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

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